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6  |  When Blocky Klingons Attack
Darryl B. , 5/23/2005 1:05:59 PM
Musings on if a certain tv show would collide with a certain video game handheld:

Sulu: "Captain, three blocky Klingon ships have decloaked off our starboard bow!"

Captain Kirk: "Red alert! Ready blocky torpedoes!"

Sulu: "Captain, they've got several human female hostages on board!"

Kirk: "Stand down red alert, beam them to my quarters, and THEN raise shields and prepare to fire!"

Sulu: "Captain, those women are...blocks."

Kirk: "Well, so are YOU, you idiot."

Sulu: "Aye, sir..."

Yep, all the graphics on that small screen of the Microvision were all just a bunch of blocks. So with Star Trek: Phaser Strike, you kind of have to use your imagination as to what's going down.

However, one of the criteria I use for reviewing is how well the hardware was utilized for making and running a game, as the Microvision did what it could with what little it had (only 1K of memory): after all, there's either no way you could do a Resident Evil or a Halo game on the Atari 2600 (unless they're VERY limited), but comparing an over 20 year old game with inferior hardware to today's systems is unfair: did every single game for the 2600 stink? Hell no. And even though it's on a fixed course(s), the Star Wars Trilogy arcade game from the 90s is still fun, and blows this away, but again, you're comparing apples with Romulans.

A pretty decent job was still done with Phaser Strike, though, as the Enterprise must destroy whatever targets it can. A ship will cross the screen and you will only get one shot to destroy it; miss, and that's too bad, you can't fire again until the next ship comes out (I guess the Enterprise flunked it's last inspection, but was sent out on a mission to save the day anyway). You can only fire straight up from the middle, up at a right diagonal (from the left side of the screen), and vice versa.

The regular game, though, seems more boring than a Vulcan lecture on logic, as big, slow-moving ships are easy as Kirk's women to destroy, as there's no reason why you couldn't get a perfect score on it every time. However, you get to shake things up a bit, as you can choose to have fast ships to try to destroy, as well as big and small ones (from ships that are four blocks wide to ones that are only ONE block in size, which I assume could be those really small, hard to hit Tholian ships), which is the best game variation, to mix 'em up, having ships of all sizes and speeds to go up against. Randomization really saves this game, even though you won't necessarily save the galaxy; after all, there's no way to die, there's just a predetermined number of ships (you can choose from as few as 10 during a wave) to blow up, and your personal high score to beat at the end of the game, and that's about it.

However, this was still a decent game for the fledgling handheld universe back then, as the Microvision blockily went where no other handheld went before -- oh yeah, WHAT other handhelds? -- paving the way for future generations of better handheld shoot 'em ups (and all the other genres of games that would come out for those handhelds as well).

Looks like Scotty's overtime paid off.

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